Business Insider reported “50% of the workforce will work remotely by 2020 and with the COVID-19 pandemic sweeping the globe, this may become the norm." The tactics leaders have been using to motivate their on-site employees may not be effective on the work from home employees. These remote workers can feel isolated and disconnected even to the point of feeling loneliness, out of the loop, and voiceless.
Forbes magazine defines employee morale “the attitude, satisfaction, and overall outlook of employees during their association with an organization or business.” Positive morale is where the employees enjoy the work atmosphere and eager to work efficiently and productively. Employees with a higher morale will give their company a competitive edge. In times of crisis, employees will work together to find solutions to avoid catastrophe.
Just like on our football team, when it comes to recruiting the best talent, you will attract the best employees if your company’s morale is positive and high. Football players thrive where there is a healthy, good work environment.
At the beginning of Covid19, our Mizzou football team was forced to have our players work independently, at home, on their own. They faced a couple of the problems below that could have caused low morale last spring which are similar issues your remote employees could also be facing presently:
●CLARITY: We set clear, realistic goals for our players. Position coaches scheduled one on one meeting through facetime to track, assess, and evaluation progress and goals. It was clear to each player what was expected of them for our team.
● GROWTH: Our players needed to stay engaged and motivated to improve and grow so they would not become disengaged. It is important for personal growth of an employee also, not just the company or team.
●LEADERSHIP CHANGES: With a new head coach and staff, we did not have very much time with our players before they were sent home from school. Anytime change of leadership, there is a change in the culture and confidence may be fragile.
● LEADERSHIP PROBLEMS: Our staff at Mizzou understands the importance of leadership at all levels and how it can affect the team. A great amount of time and thought has been put into our leadership plan.
● THE COMPANY ITSELF: The reputation of a company can be the biggest and most important factor impacting employee morale. At Mizzou, we were a new staff, playing a 10 game all SEC schedule, dealing with Covid-19 , the issues of equality and justice, and the unstable environment of college life right now.
TIPS FOR BUILDING MORALE IN COVID19 TIMES
● COMMUNICATE: Keeping employees connected through communication by video conferencing and instant messaging is the best way to combat employees’ feelings of isolation. Check in with your employees daily. Share positive company announcements, loop them into conversations, ask for feedback, and keep the communication line open every change you get!
● GIVE RECOGNITION: Gallup poll found “workplace recognition motivates, provides a sense of accomplishment, and makes employees fee valued for their work. It will boost individual employee engagement, increase productivity, and loyalty.” Employee recognition is low cost and high impact!
● GIVE FEEDBACK: According to Gallup, employees that didn’t receive feedback were 40% more likely to disengage. Employees want to be heard and have their thoughts appreciated, not just at the annual review, but throughout the year.
● IMPLEMENT TECHNOLOGY: Zoom, group text, emails, power point, video chat are some of the obvious but there are many apps out there that can help communicate with your team. Connect Team is an app that helps centralize all of your communications, workflows, and training which is set up for the deskless employee on the go. It is great to share more accomplishments, celebrations, birthdays, work successes through announcements, video, or storytelling to keep your employees connected on a more personal level.
● PROVIDE OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH: A sense of growth is a great motivator whether it be by a job promotion or a learning course. It gives them a goal and a sense of purpose. Studies have shown organizations with employee development programs are six time more likely to increase employee engagement and have 2.5 times higher productivity rate.
● REMAIN CALM: A calm mindset will keep your team confident and boost their morale, fear can be paralyzing causing missed deadlines, anger, below standard performance. Keep your employees updated on the situation and open for discussion. Our football plan changed weekly and sometimes daily, so communication was very important to keep the calm mindset.
● ADVOCATE FOR YOUR EMPLOYEES: Your employees’ well-being is a top priority and ultimately is what keeps them invested.
● SHOW COMPASSION: At the peak of this pandemic, employees have many issues outside of the office to handle whether is sickness, death, homeschooling kids, being home in an abusive relationship, and financial struggles. Our players have struggled with isolation, sickness, disappointment, online classes, and long periods of time without access to working out or being around the team and coaching staff. “1 in 3 employees have left a job because they didn’t feel their employer cared about them as a person” according to Limeade’s Employee Care Report.
● BALANCE: In Covid19 times, employees need a balance of work and life. To many people whose world has been disrupted by the pandemic, their job seems relative insignificant. Some of our football players have opted out of the season because of Covid19 concerns or issues with themselves or family.
● HONESTY: Coach Drinkwitz dealt with all the issues head-on. He was upfront and honest with the team and staff during both the good and the bad. He did not sugar coat anything. It reminded me of the “Stockdale Paradox” . If you are unfamiliar with it, I highly suggest that you “Google” it. To paraphrase: you must never underestimate how bad of a situation you are in and at the same time, never give up belief that not only will you survive, but your survival will be one of the crowning achievements of your life.
I’ll leave you with the words of the great American patriot, Thomas Paine.
“These are the times that try men’s souls: the summer soldier and the the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.”